I have worked at the Family Care Network for over ten years, and the ways in which this work and this agency has impacted me is immeasurable. This work is humbling; it gives me the opportunity to serve others, help them have hope, and allows me to call my passion “work”. It has changed who I am as a friend, daughter and sister.
When I started at the Family Care Network I was 22 and fresh out of Cal Poly with a Bachelor's degree in Child Development. My actual career plan was to be a teacher, but I knew I wasn’t ready to manage a classroom of 30 students. I had a friend who worked at FCNI and she suggested that I apply. I remember thinking that FCNI would be a good place to get my feet wet, and get a little experience under my belt before I went back to school for my teaching credential. It didn’t take long until I was hooked at Family Care Network. I latched on to a program called “Familia de Novo” or, as it’s more commonly referred to, Wraparound or WRAP. I loved this program because it embraces a model which dictates that we put families at the forefront of services. We always seek to individualize services and treatment in order to fit an individual family’s needs, instead of using a “one-size-fits-all” model. This approach encourages creativity, flexibility and teamwork. And learning this model has helped me understand that success means very different things to different people, and that we will never fully help someone until we understand their beliefs and culture. I became so impassioned about serving others that before I knew it, I was applying for a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology so I could enhance my skills and begin a new chapter of helping.
What I have discovered during my journey is that when you walk alongside someone during their darkest of times you get the privilege of learning how strong the human spirit is. With each of the families I get the opportunity to work with, I take a moment to appreciate their bravery and strength. These experiences have taught me a level of compassion that has affected me both in and outside of work. On numerous occasions, I have called or written my parents to express my gratitude for the love they have and continue to provide me, the consistency they were able to offer it, and for teaching me the tools to be effective in this field--compassion, care, perseverance, hopefulness and joy. As a friend, I am now much quicker to express my love and appreciation, as I can acknowledge the healing power of a strong and healthy friendship (plus, it helps that I am blessed with some of the best friends in the world). My brother and I now have a closer relationship than I could have ever imagined despite living 850 miles away from each other.
Don’t get me wrong, this work can be challenging; sitting with someone and lending a listening ear as they recount traumas and tragedies that I can’t begin to imagine coping with is a difficult and emotional investment. There are some days that the harsh realities my families’ face weight really heavy on me. I have learned that I can’t just teach coping skills; I need to practice them. Self-care is vital and there is no time like the present to learn what fills your cup (as they say). When I sit in awe of some of the tragedies others endure (abuse, addiction, loss, etc.), I am reminded once again of the strength of the human spirit as internally I think, “They did it. They survived. They are surviving.”
This work and this agency has changed me, and I will be forever grateful for that.